Latino Culture (2/22/24)

Carnaval in Mazatlán


Carnaval, also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is a joyous celebration observed in various parts of the world, symbolizing a final indulgence before the solemn period of Lent. Among the most famous carnivals are the vibrant festivities of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the spirited Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and the colorful Carnaval de Barranquilla in Colombia. Carnaval is always the day before Ash Wednesday. 

In Mexico, the Carnaval de Mazatlán stands out as one of the most lively and iconic celebrations. It is celebrated annually in the coastal city of Mazatlán, located in the state of Sinaloa.

This carnival is one of the oldest and largest in Mexico, dating back over a century. It is reported to be the 3rd largest in the world after Rio De Janeiro and New Orleans and it lasts 6 days.

The festivities kick off with the Quema del Mal Humor, or the Burning of the Bad Humor, a symbolic ritual dating back to 1898. In 1903, the bubonic plague had hit the port of Mazatlán, which is why the Carnival was suspended that year. 

The following year, la Quema del Mal Humor was carried out as a kind of “cleansing” of the evils that existed in the port. It is a symbolic act that represents the elimination of everything negative that afflicts the world; a popular criticism of people or circumstances that have done something against society.

The figure (which is represented in piñata form) is literally burned and while the act is carried out, fireworks are launched. In the past, they have used presidents and politicians that have caused harm to the Mexican community, but they have also had representations of natural disasters and COVID. 

What sets the Carnaval de Mazatlán apart is its pulsating soundtrack of banda music, the traditional regional sound of Mexico that finds its roots in Sinaloa.

During those six days, there will be two big parades down the Malecon, a 7-kilometer-long oceanfront seawall promenade that runs the length of the main bay in Mazatlán. Parades have massive floats and participants dancing in colorful outfits. The Malecon is filled with about half a million people that watch the parade go by. Another event held is the coronation at the Teodoro Mariscal Baseball Stadium.

They coronate kids, women, and men in distinct categories. There are also massive fireworks shows as well as multi day street parties. 

Street parties reign supreme during the Olas Altas Carnival Street Party, a multi-night extravaganza along the shores of Olas Altas bay. With 22 musical groups and DJs across 11 stages in 2023, the atmosphere is electric.

Meanwhile, the Parade of Lights over the Sea transforms the tranquil waters from Marina to Malecon into a dazzling procession of illuminated boats adorned with vibrant LED lights.

The Mazatlan Carnaval is not just about partying, but also celebrating culture and creativity.

Poetry contests, literature prizes, and cultural exhibitions enrich the carnival experience as well as offering a carnival fair with kids rides and food stalls, making this a family friendly event. 

Whether it is at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Rio, or Mazatlan, Carnaval echoes of laughter and the promise of unforgettable memories.

If you've yet to experience the magic of Carnaval, mark your calendar for next year's festivities. It is a once in a lifetime experience.